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Netflix tests incognito mode to keep your guilty pleasures secret

Want to use Netflix on social but scared your friends will see just how much you've watched those embarrassing guilty pleasures? Fear not - the TV and movie streaming service could be planning its very own incognito mode.

 

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Right now the company is in the process of testing the option in all of its market over the next few months, but it's not available to every or even most users. But if it is set to be integrated in Netflix, it'll appear as part of the multiple user profile feature. Not only would the option keep your guilty pleasures safe, but it would also scrub these from contributing towards user recommendations.

 

It's not guaranteed that the feature will become widespread - with new corporate comms and tech director Cliff Edwards saying this depends on the reactions from users. "We may not ever offer it generally," he said, according to GigaOm. "At Netflix we continuously test new things. In this case, we are testing a feature in which a user watching a movie or TV show can choose to view in "Privacy Mode." Choosing that option means the program will not appear in your viewing activity log, nor will it be used to determine recommendations about what you should watch in the future."

British content pirates to receive warnings but no further action

Next year, frequent content pirates in Britain are to be sent official warning emails reminding them that downloading copyrighted content on P2P networks is against the law. However, if they're ignored, absolutely nothing will happen.

 

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As part of a new initiative, which was agreed upon by the content industry and all major internet providers in the UK, frequent offenders will be monitored by a third party. Those found to be downloading copyrighted content will receive an educational email, reminding them that their actions are illegal, and providing options for legal alternatives - such as Netflix, Spotify, and Google Music. The process is heavily amended from the initial proposal, listed in 2010's Digital Economy Act, which demanded content pirates had their internet access stripped away. Its new iteration is called the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme and is considerably less stern.

 

The British Phonographic Industry, a lobby group which has been a key player in brokering the deal, said that this initiative is more about realigning people's habits rather than punishment alone - the latter being something the content industry is widely known for pursuing. "It's about persuading the persuadable, such as parents who do not know what is going on with their net connection," the BPI's chief exec George Taylor told the BBC. "Vcap is not about denying access to the internet, it's about changing attitudes and raising awareness so people can make the right choice."

Coffee shops, cafes struggle to provide free Wi-Fi with guidance

Coffee shops, restaurants and other locations invite customers to use Wi-Fi, but many small businesses are struggling to handle some visitors leeching free Web access without being paying customers. It's not uncommon to see visitors purchase one item and occupy a table during peak customer times for long durations without making any additional purchases.

 

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Time Warner Cable and other Internet service providers are working with businesses to create methods to ensure customers can access Wi-Fi, but don't try to abuse free Internet access. Many locations still rely on customers to use their best judgment and be courteous to their fellow visitors.

 

"For a large retailer, information is as valuable as anything else," said Thad Nation, Wired Wisconsin Executive Director, in a statement to local media. "Businesses wouldn't offer free Wi-Fi if people didn't spend money there and keep coming back. They make sure you're comfortable and have electrical outlets because a happy customer is a repeat customer."

Continue reading 'Coffee shops, cafes struggle to provide free Wi-Fi with guidance' (full post)

Economist takes a close look at impact of file sharing on Hollywood

An economist, Koleman Strumpf, has published an academic paper that thoroughly examines just what effect file sharing can have on profits for the movie industry - and it turns out the answer's not a great deal.

 

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In Using Markets to Measure the Impact of File Sharing on Movie Revenues, Strumpf tracks statistics from both the Hollywood Stock Exchange and Bittorrent, and ultimately, BoingBoing reports, file sharing is not the monster it's made out to be. In fact, sometimes it even helps at the box office, in particular when leaks help to generate pre-release hype.

 

"Using movie-level tracking stocks in conjunction with the arrival date of illicit copies," the paper reads, "I find that file sharing has only a modest impact on box office revenue." That's not exactly nothing - but it's not quite the song and dance Hollywood made it out to be either. The full paper is available here (PDF).

Verizon blames Netflix for intentionally slowing down its own traffic

Netflex and Verizon are having a catfight about allegedly capping internet bandwidth that affects the online streaming service. This time, Verizon is pointing its fingers at Netflix, claiming in its blog post that the streaming service is stifling its own subscriber's experience.

 

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Verizon said that its subscriber complained of fetting bad Netflix performance even though he is using the 75Mbps FiOS connection plan. But Verizon defended its internet service by saying that there is no congestion from the company's broadband infrastructure, which offloads all the suspicion on Netflix.

 

Verizon's operations team conducted a study when it received a complaint from its customer when Netflix sent a mail to its Verizon's dastardly deed. Verizon explained that congestion happens when it reaches 100% capacity which usually happens during peak usage periods. However, when they compared with other services which uses non-Netflix traffic, there was no congestion at all.

Continue reading 'Verizon blames Netflix for intentionally slowing down its own traffic' (full post)

Internet helping prostitution thrive, using website marketing

Street walkers and criminals trying to exploit prostitution are finding great success by becoming more Internet savvy, promoting their activities with little risk of law enforcement interference. Higher-end escorts - generating $500+ per hour for their "company" - rely on websites and Internet advertising to generate interest.

 

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A survey of sex workers found they gave an average response of 3.91 on a scale of 1-10 when asked about risk of arrest - and more than 31 percent of those asked rated risk just 1 or 2.5.

 

"If a prostitute invests in her website's copy editing, professional photographs, or video, this may signal to potential customers her quality, education level, or income (and thus popularity or success in the market)," said Scott R. Peppet, University of Colorado law professor, in a recent research paper. "Such signals matter: evidence suggests, for example, that sex workers proficient in English can charge higher prices and are more likely to attract customers, and that prostitutes willing to reveal an accurate picture of themselves command higher prices."

Continue reading 'Internet helping prostitution thrive, using website marketing' (full post)

Judge orders Amazon and Craigslist to reveal info on phony reviewers

Ubervita, the company that manufactures testosterone boosters, weight loss supplements and other body enhancement pills filed a case claiming that many phony negative reviews were posted on Amazon to disrupt its sales of products.

 

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A federal judge ruled in the company's favour, giving them the right to issue a subpoena Amazon and even Craiglist of cough up the details of those reviews who allegedly posting fake negative reviews.

 

What ruled in Ubervita's favor is that ads were found in Craiglist which offered cash to post negative reviews about Ubervita products by posing as a dissatisfied customer. Ubervita said that it is necessary to get access of this information to catch those who are running a 'campaign' against Ubervita and place them under a disadvantage. U.S. District judge Marsha Pechman said that Amazon and Craiglist must reveal information such as names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, IP addresses and even credit card details and bank account information.

Continue reading 'Judge orders Amazon and Craigslist to reveal info on phony reviewers' (full post)

UK internet providers brand NSA, GCHQ villains at industry award show

American spy agency the NSA and its British counterpart, GCHQ, have been declared the "internet villains" of 2014 at a British internet industry awards ceremony.

 

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At the 2014 ISPA Awards in London, telcos pointed the finger at GCHQ and the NSA for their involvement in programs like PRISM and Tempora, as revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The internet hero award,meanwhile, was granted to the Guardian for its extensive reporting on the matter.

 

Unsurprisingly no spy agency officials were on hand to pick up the tongue-in-cheek, villainous gong, so it was collected by privacy campaigners Big Brother Watch instead. Last year's 'winner' was Turkey's prime minister Erdogan, who clamped down on online freedoms throughout the country as a wave of protest hit the streets and social media. The ceremony is in its 16th year running and invites all the heavy hitters of the British telecoms industry.

Y2K bug strikes again, sends military draft notices to 14,000 men

The Selective Service System was partying like it was 1999 recently, with their system sending out military draft notices to 14,000 men in Pennsylvania born between 1893 and 1897.

 

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The notices were telling these men to register for the nation's military draft, warning them that if they didn't, that it is "punishable by a fine and imprisonment". The AP reports: "The glitch originated with the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles during an automated data transfer of nearly 400,000 records to the Selective Service. The records of males born between 1993 and 1997 were mixed with those of men born a century earlier, Selective Service spokesman Pat Schuback told The Associated Press on Thursday. The federal agency didn't know it because the state uses a two-digit code to indicate year of birth".

 

The youngest surviving draftee would be turning 117 this year, probably a bit too old to be drafted in the military, wouldn't you say?

Kickstarter project funding a potato salad brings in thousands

A Kickstarter project to crowdsource potato salad has received over 37,000 US dollars shortly after going live and with 25 more days to go at the time of publication.

 

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The page's creator, Zack Danger Brown, simply said that he is "making potato salad" and that backers will be guaranteed a bite. Stretch goals at $35 included making four times as much potato salad, while reaching $75 dollars guaranteed a pizza party and $100 came with a promise of trying two different potato salad recipes.

 

"We're really tearing through these stretch goals," Brown said. "I honestly don't know what is realistic anymore." At $3,000 Brown promised to rent out a party hall and "invite the whole internet" - "the internet loves potato salad," he added. "Let's show them that potato salad loves the internet!" Backers are now also being guaranteed hats that will express a love for the carby Summer treat.

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